Ronaldo vs. Messi, it has become one of football’s eternal debates. Who’s better and the reasons why is something fans argue over without reaching a consensus. We thought we would tackle the Ronaldo vs. Messi debate from another angle, by trying to show which player is the best on-field decision maker.
So, this is not your typical Messi vs. Ronaldo debate. Anyone who has taken even a quick glance at the statistics between these two players will know there’s little to separate them. Before getting into detail, let’s look at how Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi compare throughout their careers:
Plenty can be gained by simply looking at these base-level stats, such as the fact Ronaldo is obviously a hugely prolific goal scorer. He has scored more than Messi in just about every category, but his dominance in this field comes with one huge caveat. The Portuguese legend has played 150 games more than Messi during his career.
Looking closely at Messi’s own goal record, it seems reasonable to presume that by the time he has played those extra 150 games, he will surpass Ronaldo’s record. However, there is another metric shown above that possibly defines why Messi is both a better contributor to overall team play, and indeed why he makes the better decisions on the pitch.
Oh yes, let’s get it out of the way now, we are definitely edging towards Messi over Ronaldo as the better on-field decision maker. Despite playing 150 games fewer than Ronaldo, the Argentine has secured 267 assists, an incredible rate of creativity. Ronaldo is certainly no slouch when it comes to dishing up scoring passes, with 218, but Messi is king in this department. Again, it is worth remembering again the Barcelona superstar has played 150 fewer games.
Performance in 2018 – 2019 Season
Messi’s superior on-field decision making has been evident during this current campaign. Across all competitions, he has averaged 56 passes per game, 3.1 key passes per game, and has secured 14 assists during the season.
In comparison Ronaldo averages 1.7 key passes per game for Juventus, and only passes on average 31 times per contest. However, he has still managed 10 assists, perhaps indicating his point of the attack positioning on the pitch. Incidentally, Ronaldo has played nearly 400 minutes more than Messi during the 2018/2019 campaign.
For the 2017/2018 season, Messi’s average heat map shows he spends most of his time between the halfway line and 18-yard box, creating and influencing play regularly in central positions.
Again, Ronaldo is not an out-and-out poacher, but his maps for the same season shows he spends much of his time on the left wing and up front.
Conclusions when discussing Ronaldo and Messi are hard to come by. Both players have been named the world’s best player five times, both have won similar amounts of individual and team trophies, and both have loyal fans. However, Messi’s creativity and ability to surpass Ronaldo’s goal record suggest the Argentine is more of a creative force on the field.